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FAU names 3 finalists for president's job. Randy Fine isn't among them

Florida House of Representatives

The search for a new president at Florida Atlantic University is down to three finalists. Each brings strong administrative backgrounds in higher education in their quest to lead the Boca Raton-based school.

None are named Randy Fine, the Republican state representative from Brevard County who received public support for the job from Gov. Ron DeSantis. It’s not known if Fine applied.

A national search that emphasized “strategic pillars and initiatives” developed by the search committee and FAU board of trustees whittled down 63 candidates to this trio:

  • Vice Admiral Sean Buck, superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.
  • Michael Hartline, dean of the College of Business at Florida State University.
  • Jose Sartarelli, former chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

In accordance with the Florida Board of Governors’ requirements for university presidential searches, each will conduct public forums on FAU’s campuses before interviewing with the board. The schedule will be released soon, the university said.

According to FAU, the applicants included 12 current or former university or system presidents, eight executive vice presidents, five provosts, and several vice presidents of health affairs and deans. Seven were from members of the Association of American Universities and six from Carnegie 1 research institutions.

An array of senior leaders with nonacademic backgrounds also applied, the school said.

DeSantis had asked Fine about possibly applying for the job earlier this year. Next year will be Fine’s last in the House due to term limits, although he has filed to run for the state Senate for a district that covers much of Brevard.

A law signed in 2022 by DeSantis shields information about applicants to become university presidents. Only identifying information about finalists is made public.

Buck has served as the superintendent at Annapolis since 2019. Prior to his appointment, he was the commander of the Fourth Fleet and Naval Forces Southern Command. Buck also served as the chief of staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Naval Academy and a master’s from George Washington University.

Hartline has been Florida State’s business dean since 2016. Other FSU roles included interim vice president for university advancement, interim president and executive vice president of the University Foundation, and chair of the Department of Marketing. Hartline earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Jacksonville State University and his doctorate from the University of Memphis.

Sartarelli was UNC-Wilmington’s chancellor from 2015 until 2022. Previously at West Virginia University, he was dean of College of Business and Economics and chief global officer. He also served as an executive for divisions with Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Sao Paulo School of Business Administration, then his MBA and doctorate from Michigan State University.

The three are vying to replace John Kelly, who stepped down last year. The interim president is Stacy Volnick, FAU’s chief operating officer and vice president for administrative affairs.

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Rick Mayer